Diana Neves is off to Logan Thunder in the WNBL, another step in her career.
Diana Neves is off to Logan Thunder in the WNBL, another step in her career.

Power Duo get call-up

PORT City Power will have a major representation in the best women’s basketball competition as two players strive to make their debut in the league.

Amanda Beatson and Diana Neves have been snapped up by the Townsville Fire and Logan Thunder respectively.

The WNBL season starts in early October and the pair is looking to get as much from the experience as they can.

Beatson got the call-up last week after a query appeared out of the blue.

“I got a message from the coach on Facebook whether I was interested, and sent back I’d love to know more,” she said.

Coach Peter Buckle tutored Beatson at State level, and she was impressed with his ability to get the best out of her.

“He’s a hard coach, but he’s really good,” Beatson said.

Beatson started her basketball in Gladstone, before playing for the Rockhampton Rockets for nine years, and returned to the Power three years ago.

“I’ve always wanted to play WNBL but never had the chance, so just getting the chance is huge for me,” Beatson said.

“It will be a massive step up, but it’s been good having Jess Bibby and Nat Hurst who play in our league as well.”

Her all-round improvement has been dramatic over the past three years since she returned to the Power, and she has her first training run with the Fire today.

Neves spent five years playing college ball in the US, after growing up in Gladstone, and is now on the cusp of fulfilling a long-time ambition, after making her decision this week to go to Logan.

A big lure was the chance to work under former Australian player Sandy Brondello and her husband, Olaf Lange, who coaches in the WNBA in the US.

“I’m looking forward to it very much, it’s exciting to be learning off Brondello,” Neves said.

“My goal was St Peters, college and the WNBL, so I’ve reached my goal.”

Basketball became her sport at 10 and has seen the Kev Broome Stadium change over the years, and how the town embraced the women’s team.

“I played for Gladstone before I went to the States, and it doesn’t compare now, we used to play in front of 10 people,” she said.

The grand final win on the weekend was even better than last year, as the passionate fans made the victory a special one.

“The crowd was amazing, and the atmosphere was really good,” she said.

Townsville was a WNBL option Neves looked at, but given the Logan program and the fact no pecking order for places exists was a factor.

“At Logan, everyone has a clean start and has to impress the coach, so I’ll get a chance to play,” Neves said.

“The first night running out will be nerve-wracking, but I’m trying to go in with no expectations and just play.”

After returning from the States in May, Neves joined the Power in its quest for another premiership.

“I’ve improved so much in the past two years under Jess Bibby and Nat Hurst, especially the mental side of the game, what to do on the court,” she said.

Neves had been competing in track before arriving home, and felt her fitness level was high until she watched her first game this season.

“The game is much quicker than in college, I’d forgotten how fast it was,” she said.

The main strength of Neves’ game is her shooting, however she wants to improve the other aspects of her game which will be critical in taking the next step.

“If I’m not shooting well, I’m trying to focus on playing good defence,” she said.

Port City Power men’s coach Blair Smith said the girls’ inclusion into WNBL teams proved the local program was working.

“If you’d told them two years ago they’d be in two championships, they’d have thought I was crazy.”

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